So I finished up two...well, I finished a short story and a book.
The short story was Last Train to Jubilee Bay by Kali Wallace. In a city abandoned after a plague, a handful of scavengers eke out whatever kind of living they can. To help ease the pain, there's serum, a drug offered by amphibious creatures on the encroaching shoreline of the city. Trade them some memories and they'll give you serum.
Now the traders have gone missing and Lucy has to track them down and find out what happened.
It was...short. Some interesting ideas and it could've been spun out a bit more. As it was, it was a pretty short trip.
I was much happier with The Burn Zone by James K. Decker. The basic plot here is that on a resource-strapped Earth, aliens called the haan have crash landed in China. The haan consume a lot more than a human would, so in exchange for food, the haan offer China a lot of advanced tech. The plan is that if China shelters them now, the advanced tech will eventually prop up the resource decline and save everyone.
Part of the plan is that humans will act as surrogate parents for haan infants. The humans spend a few years raising the haan child and get bonus rations. Sam is one of those surrogate parents. Things are just getting by when her dad Dragan, a member of the security forces comes home with armored troopers hot on his heels. Dragan is captured and hauled away while Sam is chucked out a window. So begins a race against time as Sam tries to piece together what her father found out and then save him before he gets killed.
It's good stuff. I particularly like development of the alien/human agreements than underlie the world of the novel. The haan are aloof but all their technology doesn't allow them to stand on their own against the world -- and their nature's make them more inclined to co-operate. Sam is also a pretty interesting character. She's pretty clever and tends to work out solutions on her own. She also tends to eschew violence unless absolutely necessary.
The only real nit-pik is that Sam makes good use of a distributed personal computing network and yet the authorities (who are pretty draconian) never seem to have their hooks into the system. Perhaps it's haan tech they don't fully comprehend or have access to, but it's never really explained and given how much censorship goes on in China right now a pseudo-future China is not likely to be any less tolerant.
Still, The Burn Zone was a nice sci-fi thriller that clipped along and has a solid ending.